In my experience I think that music university departments do not necessarily allow for enough flexibility to explore avenues that you could pursue in your career. (stui4)

Several students embark on a doctorate with the aim to pursue an academic career. The number of students graduating each year far surpasses the number of jobs available in universities and the rate at which jobs appear. 


I think if a student is coming in to do a PhD to pursue an academic career, they have to really be thinking about that as soon as they start, they have to be prepared to get publications out, think of that pathway to get teaching experience and so on. (stai5)

If you wish to pursue an academic career, start working towards that from the beginning of your doctorate. Ask your supervisor about teaching and publishing opportunities, potentially editing a post-graduate journal, and showing your work. You might also want to consider careers outside academia. Thinking about potential career paths and searching for opportunities to upgrade your skills during your degree will put you in a stronger position when you finish. The following are some notes to consider: 

  • Involve your supervisor. Discuss your career ambitions with your supervisor and ask for what you need. The supervisor might be able to support you with access to academic teaching, point you towards small grants for conferences and other opportunities. If you feel that a close involvement with industry partners would be beneficial, ask your supervisor to introduce you to key players and be pro-active in developing an informal arrangement. Funding may not be available, but an informal short internship or project will help you develop skills and networks. 
  • Take advantage of career training opportunities offered by your course, department, school, or university. They offer training on a large array of topics, such as publishing, viva preparation, funding applications, conference presentation, project management, research impact, work dissemination, and teaching for example. These training sessions can be helpful to navigate academic processes.

To know what’s appropriate to ask for at a conference. Those are some quite basic cultural academic cultural skills that I was fortunate in that my supervisor was really good at teaching us those. (stui4)

  • Editing an academic journal. This experience can be time consuming but helpful in learning to develop an argument and edit your own work.
  • Focused expertise vs general skills. Consider whether you may need specific skills for the doctorate and/or your future career, or developing more generic skills such as communication and project management. 
  • Think about how your expertise can impact society. In thinking broadly about your career opportunities, consider how your Artistic Research skills and approach has potential to impact society. Reflect on the skills you are developing and how they might impact your communities positively.


An Artistic Research doctorate requires a distinct set of skills than traditional PhDs, particularly related to artwork production and project management. Developing skills can be a serendipitous process for each student, dependent on supervisor networks and on how student finds opportunities for themselves. Whilst generic skills modules are helpful in providing support with academic processes, the specific needs of each candidate means that often students would benefit from unique training opportunities, which can be articulated in discussion between the candidate and the supervisor. The supervisor can support the candidate in the process:

And if you have a good supervisor, you will often find that the supervisor will seek out the unique training opportunities, for example, say a PhD student is completing a project in amateur film, they need access to archive and they want film handling skills which are very specialist – that would be about the supervisor setting up the partnership with the archive to allow the student to get that very specialist training, and that is so tailored to the unique project (stai5).

Some proposals for action: 

  • Offer students resources and strategies to apply their knowledge and skills beyond academia. Consider how the skills that students are developing can be applied within industry, in near fields, in alternative careers, and help students in exploring career opportunities outside the academy. 

Maybe just some resources on other types of ways we can apply what we do to different types of work in the world, I do still have to work, how can we take this arts practice degree and experience and training and apply it to other types of disciplines, or field or careers besides teaching at higher education? (Miriam)

  • Offer field-specific employability training. Institutions provide a good offer of generic skills training, however, specific training to navigate the creative professional environment students are under could be enhanced. For example, targeted grant writing seminars and fostering more involvement with industry partners. This is particularly relevant for international students and those with short professional experience. In addition, skills often learned on the field can be embedded into academic training. A common lack of skillset in film is grant writing, funding pitching and budgeting, which could be taught in partnership with a screen training organisation.

There could be some really useful employability training, specific employability training, done with PhDs. And by specific I mean how to get an arts grant in Ireland. What the Irish theatre scene looks like and sign up with Theatre forum and all of those things that are very specific to the community in which we work. (stui4)



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